Short Cuts

Because I can... In the Top Ten grid all the critics were permitted one "wild card" category to express whatever they might like about the year in film. I've devoted the rest of this column to indulging a few more of the wild cards up my sleeve. One of the year's most welcome trends was the unprecedented popularity of movies that were rooted in American black culture but removed from the urban jungle, angry gangsta aesthetic. Love, family, and middle-class values were at the heart of two of the year's most unexpected critical and box-office successes: Soul Food and Eve's Bayou. The two small-budget films have earned the kinds of financial returns that make the folks in the front offices sit up and take notice. Other films that also stepped beyond the confines of the black film ghetto were love jones, Rosewood, and The Watermelon Woman...

Where there are good trends there are also bad trends. My nominee? Indiscriminate revival fever. Star Wars, what hath thou wrought? Dirty Dancing? The new studio push to dust off back catalogues is driven more by the impulse to shake tired old moneymakers one more time than by any historical, archival imperative. The time has come to accept no revivals without just cause...

Actors who caught a second wind in 1997: Some of the established great ones delivered their best work in years -- Robert De Niro in Jackie Brown, Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco and Devil's Advocate, Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets. Then there was also that Jon Voight accent of the month club. Voight appeared in no less than five movies this year (Anaconda, Most Wanted, Rosewood, U-Turn, and John Grisham's The Rainmaker), with no two looking or sounding alike. Many others re-emerged from the dust heaps of the recent past to once again prove their greatness. Some examples: Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights, Debbie Reynolds in Mother and In & Out, Peter Fonda in Ulee's Gold, Pam Grier and Robert Forster in Jackie Brown...

While some of the gowns in Titanic were (literally) to die for, my vote for best costume of the year goes to that one-of-a-kind, fetishistic leather harness contraption worn so strikingly by Rosanna Arquette in Crash...

The early registration deadline for this year's SXSW Film Conference and Festival (March 13-21) is Friday, Jan. 16. The cost is $145 ($75 students), a considerable savings off the walk-up rate of $225 ($125 students). Call 467-7979,, or visit the website at for more info.

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More Short Cuts
Short Cuts
Short Cuts
The Conrans will 'Captain' 'Princess of Mars'; plus, Linklater headed for 'Bad News'

Marc Savlov, Sept. 17, 2004

Short Cuts
Short Cuts
Invest in the fests!

Marc Savlov, Sept. 3, 2004

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